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Is Bliss speak to Eyeplug

Is Bliss comprise of Jimmy Stuart (Guitar/Voice), Dean Edwards (Bass) and Sam Speakman (Drums) and are based in Portsmouth. Gaining critical acclaim due to their original sound, 6music airplays and incendiary live performances on the increasingly growing new psychedelic gig circuit, they are a band to look out for. After successful support slots with both Mark Gardener (Ride) & Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), the band soon head out to do a support slot for The Jesus And Mary Chain on their current tour. Signed to Club AC30 with an imminent new E.P. recorded, Dean had a chat with Eyeplugs Dave Taylor who wanted to find out some more.

01. How did the band originate?

We started the band out of boredom I guess. Myself and Jimmy had been rehearsing songs now and then in his bedroom and when we felt we had something cool going on we decided that it would be best to look for a drummer. Sam was an old friend of Jimmy’s who had recently moved back to Portsmouth. Jimmy suggested we ask him to drum for us and from the first time we rehearsed as a 3-piece it felt right and we knew we were on to a winner with Sam.

02. How did you decide on your name?

The name ‘Is Bliss’ was a suggestion from a friend of the band who used to jam with me and Jimmy some while back before Sam joined. It seemed fitting and we stuck with it.

03. Who influences your sound?

We have always been fascinated by in our opinion, the two best eras for guitar bands, the 60s and the 90s. Both eras influence us heavily in the way we dress, think, write, play music and live. In terms of bands that made us want to start playing then we owe that to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane, Spacemen 3, The Verve, Radiohead and The Brian Jonestown Massacre etc…

04. What are you currently listening to?

Right now, we are listening to White Fence, The Smoking Trees, The Spyrals, The Lucid Dream, Tinariwen and Dead Rabbits. Really, anything psychedelic and fuzzy is what we love!

05. How has the band evolved since it’s initial concept?

I feel we have evolved in every aspect of being a band really, We’ve learnt what common ground and also what differences we have and how to use that to create something we all are happy with. This is the case in every song, we all have to be into it 100%, otherwise it doesn’t work for us. We’ve evolved as friends too and grown closer as a unit. We know each others next move in the rehearsal room as well as on stage.

06. Your last release, the Velvet Dreams E.P. was Lauren Lavern’s Record of the Day on 6 Music and the first pressing completely sold out. Surely, you must be pleased with that?

For sure we were absolutely made up when we heard both of those! To be played on 6music is something we always wanted to achieve and so when we did this on our first attempt we felt a sense of pure excitement really, and to then go on to find out the E.P. completely sold out and went into the official charts, well that’s something I think we are still getting our heads around even now. We are incredibly proud of that and couldn’t thank everybody who bought a copy enough!  

07. You’ve personally been selected by The Jesus And Mary Chain to open for them at the O2 Bournemouth on their current tour.  Are you looking forward to playing your biggest venue to date?

Yes, of course, we are absolutely buzzing to get up onto that stage and show the crowd in Bournemouth what we are about. Let’s hope we can get them warmed up enough before the sonic destruction that follows!

08. Where else can we see you play live in the near future?

We have a large selection of dates to follow this year, Festivals in the summer and of course Liverpool Psych Fest in September. Here’s how our April 2017 is looking:

01: Bournemouth – O2 Academy
07: London – Sebright Arms 
12: Brighton – Hope & Ruin
14: Paris – Espace B
16: Bristol – Crofters Rights
22: Southsea – Castle Road, Record Store Day Event

09. You promote your own Psych Fest in Portsmouth. Tell us more.

We run a night once a year called “Southsea Psych Out”. It’s just a chance for us to bring some of our favourite unsigned psych and shoegaze bands down to Pompey to tear the roof of a sweatbox of a venue. We started it last year and the night sold out which was great! We return this year in August.

10. If you were to record a cover version, what song?

I think we’ve always tried to concentrate on our own material but if the opportunity to play a cover ever did arise we always liked the idea of toying with a dance tune and making it our own. We wouldn’t want to do the obvious you know. Set ourselves a challenge with an acid house tune maybe.

11. You’ve recently been in the studio to record your next release. When can we expect to hear it and what formats will it be released on?

Yes, we’ve just finished in the studio with Patrick Collier (Vibrators, Primal Scream, New Model Army) and we have recorded a 5 track E.P that we are really pleased with. It will be released via Club AC30 in late May on 12″ coloured vinyl and digital download.

12. If people want to find out more how can they keep in touch with the band?

We have a facebook page: facebook.com/isblissband, Our label can be found: at facebook.com/clubac30 , You can also check us out on Spotify: spotify.com

Main Photo Credit: Jessica Mailey

Dave Showplug Taylor

Dave Showplug Taylor is owner of Showplug Promotions, a man who makes things happen, loves providing great affordable quality Events, Gigs, Shows, Comedy Plugs and great all around Entertainment. Works closely alongside Eyeplug Media and lives by the Sea with his Family. Loves the MC5 and Cold Beer.

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March 23, 2017 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews March 2017

The Move

Magnetic Waves of Sound: The Best Of (Esoteric/Cherry Red Recordings)

This lavish new set documents Birmingham’s favourite freakbeat quintet The Move in a way that previous compilations have only hinted at. This CD/DVD set includes an informative 20-page booklet with a complete history of the band including photos, a double-sided poster that features examples of period adverts, more rare photos and clippings as well as a DVD offering excellent German and U.K. television program performances from the time.

Originally formed as a quasi-super group as a result of members leaving other bands to form a new unit as The Move they went on to build upon their manifold talents and deliver some credible chart action, in the U.K. at least. The original group consisted of singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Roy Wood, drummer Bev Bevan, vocalist Carl Wayne, and utility players Ace Kefford (bass) and Trevor Burton (guitar/bass) and later, as members left for various reasons, included Rick Price and future Electric Light Orchestra main man Jeff Lynne. The earliest tracks here (1966-1968) arguably represent the band at their very best.

The songs are delightfully delivered creations that include top-level vocal harmonies (all members sang), energetic instrumentation and arrangements and the kind of colorfulness that speaks to the somewhat off-center creative genius of Roy Wood. Indeed “Kilroy Was Here”, “Fire Brigade”, “Night Of Fear”, “Flowers In The Rain”, “Blackberry Way”, “(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree” and “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” rank as some of the best psychedelic, Beatles-informed pop music ever created anywhere. Of course the band had to change their sound to try and match the times and their rather stolid and uneven attempts at period heaviness only proved they were perhaps trying a bit too hard. Nonetheless, as an introduction to this band, the set works brilliantly and is a definite must for neophytes and a worthy addition to any longer serving fans’ collection. The waves of sound created by the Move were truly magnetic.
BUY HERE!

(21 tracks CD/21 tracks DVD-Region Free)

Mark “Porkchop” Holder

Let It Slide (Alive Naturalsound Records)

When it comes to fleshy rock and roll nicknames it doesn’t get much fatter than “Porkchop”. Mark Holder (to his mum) is a veteran singer/guitarist-songwriter that has sprung from the brawling punk blues mud of Tennessee’s excellent Black Diamond Heavies and his first solo album rates as a grimy and exciting contender next to former band mate James Leg’s highly rated 2016 release “Blood On The Keys”. Holder is the kind of player that careens around the edges of his busted blues sound to the point of distinction. His quavering electric slide guitar work and forceful acoustic blues reverence both hit the proverbial mark and while there are sonic familiarities to past masters he plays outside of mere imitation. “Disappearing” riffs on a “Gimme Shelter” like arrangement while his version on murder-blues classic “Stagger Lee” runs out like a Led Zeppelin 3 outtake. “38” is a classic warning song and between having a 38 year old woman outside the bar in his car and his own 38 problems it’s a wonder that Holder survives at all. “Stranger” offers a country twang that would suit Johnny Cash’s ghost and album closer “Baby Please Don’t Go” burns rubber even further. This kind of fiery swamp boogie is a perfect tonic for whatever ails you right now. Worth a listen, with gravy on top. BUY HERE!

(9 tracks)

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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March 16, 2017 By : Category : Front page Music Tags:, , , , ,
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Rhoda Dakar Speaks to Eyeplug

Rhoda Dakar recently took time out from her growingly hectic schedule to speak to The ‘mighty’ Scenester about her current activity including her all new fab EP, ‘The Lotek Four Vol 1’ which is out now.

BUY A COPY HERE

S: So, tell us a little about the new EP.

RD: It started out from an idea about when I first took my son to the studio. Cecil and Terry Callier were recording ‘Dolphins’, Doctor Robert was the producer, up at the Church (The Eurythmics’ studio) and my son was six months old at the time, and he was humming along.

They wanted to have a parents’ evening, a concert where the music teachers and the parents actually performed, so I said why don’t we do ‘Dolphins’? One of the music teachers played piano, we didn’t have a bass player. In our first run through, in the rehearsal studio, I recorded it on my phone. It sounded amazing. You really don’t need all the fuss. If the song’s good, and it’s played well, and the arrangement’s right, you don’t need all the extra stuff. It’s a different art form, putting the extra stuff on. So that was the idea for the EP, to get back to the essence of what a song is, so you have a good song, and record it in a good studio, with the minimum of fuss. It was all recorded it in two sessions, in one day. We were lucky enough to have The Black Barn. We recorded two versions of one song (‘Fill the Emptiness’) just to show that it’s not even about style in which you record it.

The EP was recorded with my live band, and that was the real joy because we already had an understanding. I teach vocals and performance, I‘m used to working with different people. It’s about weighing people up, seeing what they’ve got to offer, and seeing how you can get the best out of them. There are some people you can work with a million times and still never get anywhere with them.

S: What first got you into music?

RD: My Dad. He was a singer; he used to sing around the house. There was always something playing. We had a gramophone, and 78’s; they had a big record collection, my parents. I had wanted to be an actress, and my first job was at the Young Vic, at the theatre wardrobe. My grandmother had been a theatrical costumier, she taught me how to sew, so I got a job in theatre wardrobe, and I was there for a couple of years, and in all that time, there was one mixed race actor came in for one play. I had been in the Youth Theatre and we’d done Shakespeare at the Old Vic, and I went to the Young Vic, which is just across the road, working professionally, and I suddenly realised I’d be playing nurses and prostitutes for the rest of my life. I just had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. I went into the Civil Service but I was only there for about six months, and in that time, I got in a band, and we got a deal. I’d actually been performing for over ten years by the time I got into a band. It takes a long time to be a good singer, and I wasn’t when I started, I’ve had to work at it.

S: How well did you cope with fame at such an early age?

RD: I had been around bands for a long time. I went to see my first gig when I was thirteen, so I’d seen lots and lots of bands and two of my friends were in the Sex Pistols, and I spent a lot of time with them. So I saw how they coped with it, and I saw how some didn’t cope so well, and how one coped brilliantly because he was very grounded and when he wasn’t doing anything, his Dad used to make him work for him. That keeps you on it. I have to say, that Paul Cook was a massive influence on how I behaved in the music industry. His attitude to people, his level-headedness, and I really loved that, so I took after him.

S: Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

RD: Some of them, I am, I mean, I can’t say I’m a big fan of The Partridge Family anymore, but that was kind of the first thing. Very quickly, I was into David Bowie, and that’s remained a constant, although I have to say he went out of favour with me, and I think it was when I saw him cutting up lyrics, and I thought, I’ve pored for hours over lyrics, and he just cut them up and put them together willy-nilly. I was a bit huffy about that, especially as when I wrote very much from the heart.

S: Which of today’s artists do you admire?

RD: There are loads of young grime artists that I like, when my son was too young to go by himself, I saw Skepta, Wretch 32 years ago, and I think someone who is going to do well is Stormzy. He’s bright enough to know that you can’t take one idea and go with it forever, you have to branch out, and he’s got a little twinkle in his eye. There’s an American band called The Interrupters, I think they’re under thirty, and they’re like a ska-punk band, which wasn’t something I was ever into, but they have this song called ‘Take Back The Power’ which really resonates with me at the moment, you know ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader or will you follow? Are you a fighter, or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power.’

S: Which person has had the most significant effect on you?

RD: Musically or attitudinally? It’s got to be Bowie, I as a fan when I was 13, even before I went to see him. At the time, to be a Bowie fan was like, we were called Bowie freaks; it was so different to what was going on. Also, I’ve met so many people, with whom I’m still in touch, and they shaped my adolescence. One of them, Jill from Bromley, ended up going out with Paul Weller, she was into Siouxsie Sioux, and so we all ended up knowing Siouxsie, back in the day. Essentially, the reason I’m still hanging around with bands is all about those people connected with Bowie. People I’ve reconnected with over the years, like Hugo Burnham, who was the drummer for the Gang of Four, he was one of our group, all have ended up connected with music in some way. I wasn’t one of those people tearing my clothing when Bowie died. I thought it was a shame, very much so, because I thought he was influential in a good way and the fact that he was starting to make music again. It was just brilliant. As I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, somebody was singing, ‘Where are we now?’ If a busker can’t ruin it, it’s a good song.

S: (Mentions ‘Kooks’)

RD: I was there; I did it with Dr. Robert! We did an acoustic version, we were invited onto the Women’s Stage at Pride, and we sang ‘Kooks’, and my son was like 18 months old, in the audience, in his pushchair. It (Kooks) was about his son, wasn’t it? I let my son think it was about him. I remember him (Duncan ‘Zowie’ Bowie) when he was a little tiny boy in his pushchair, ‘cause I used to sit outside Bowie’s house. I was that mad about him.

S: If you could travel back in time, to any place, when and where would it be?

RD: I’ve been asked this before. The answer I should have given is to go back to Swinging 60’s London, however, the real answer is that I would have loved to go to my Dad’s Jazz Club in Piccadilly, in the 40’s, and see what that was like. My parents met there in the Second World War, I’m sure my mother shouldn’t have been there, but in those days, people just thought ‘Well I might be dead tomorrow, let me just go and see what this is about, a Jazz Club in a basement behind the Regent Palace Hotel.’ My Dad hosted the Caribbean Club there, and the house band was the Ray Ellington Quartet. There is some great photos I’ve got from there, amazing. My Dad was so charming. Oddly enough, it would have been his 120th birthday today. He was 62 when I was born. He was from another era; he was the youngest of eleven.

S: Is there anything you would like to have prevented coming into being?

RD: Gosh. Very difficult, because you want to say, ‘prevent Hiroshima, prevent Nagasaki’, but I think I’d like to have prevented HIV. A terrible, terrible thing and I really don’t know how it came about. I don’t know how selfish this would be, but maybe prevent Trump being born.

S: If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

RD: I don’t think I’d really excise anything. I’d like to add more. I’m putting this thing out now (EP) and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. If I’d done more, would that have come to me earlier?

S: If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

RD: The advice I would give myself would be either ‘get yourself a decent manager’, or ‘learn about the music business’. I have lost and have been eased out of thousands and thousands of pounds over the years, because I trusted people to do things for me – because we never had a manager for more than about six weeks, I never joined the PRS. So I missed out on money there for example. Another one; just never reading paperwork properly that was given to me. Get acquainted with the business, and be on point, as the young people say.

S: What songs or arrangements are you most proud of, and why?

RD: I would say I’m proudest of this latest EP, particularly because I was in charge of making everything happen, for the first time ever. Nobody found the studio for me; I found it. Nobody decided on the tracks; I decided on them. I made all the big decisions, I designed it, and it’s all down to me. If there’s something wrong, it’s my fault. Even the free download, it was my decision.

S: ‘The Boiler’ is such a powerful piece of work. Did you have any misgivings about it? Has it ever proved a millstone around your neck?

RD: I don’t think of it as a bit of a millstone. For me, it was a transition between me doing acting and singing. It was the only original song we had at our first gig. It was where I started to become a songwriter. I’d think of it as a millstone if people still expected me to do it. That said, I can’t do it because it’s very much a piece about someone like my younger self, I’m not twenty, I don’t think the same thoughts. It would be me faking being twenty.

S: How did the launch for the EP go?

RD: I’m pleased I’ve had a positive response, it’s very rewarding, and we’re already writing the next one!

Rhoda Dakar spoke with Scenester1964 23/2/2017

Rhoda Dakar; The Lotek Four Vol. 1 (LTK4V1CD)

 

Coming from the doyenne of the 80’s Ska revival scene, and dressed in natty hounds-tooth (the EP, not Rhoda) the five tracks on offer here are a personal labour of love.
‘Fill The Emptiness’ opens as a languorous, swaying Lover’s Rock track, with some lovely falls in the voice, and a crisp, raspy sax solo to boot.

‘Tears You Can’t Hide’s high, pumping beat and tension and release dynamic shows Rhoda’s rounder, yet ironically, more stentorian voice tone.

‘You Talking To Me?’ has the kind of late night atmospheric sax and keyboard that welcomes you in, the voice smooth, even drifting into French at opportune moments.
Rhoda lets her voice soar on ‘Dolphins’, the ‘lapping water’ piano complementing the jazzy feel in a relationship tale.

‘Fill The Emptiness (Reefa)’ reprises in a very different style, and fits its piano riff well, the slide guitar setting it off beautifully, Rhoda duetting with herself at one point.

BUY A COPY HERE

Scenester1964 7/3/2017

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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March 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Jazz Modernist Pop Soul Tags:, , , ,
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Author – Talcott Levy

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words? 

I didn’t know I could write until I went to university, as a mature student. I had an awful schooling where I spent most of the time trying to avoid getting beaten up. We weren’t encouraged to be academic but to find a trade. But I’d always loved reading. My granddad was an antiquarian book dealer in the East End. I read mostly popular fiction when I was growing up. However, when I was 13 years old I worked in a kebab shop in Ilford washing-up. There I met this amazing guy called John who knew everything about everything. He decided I would like George Orwell. I did and I read every book in a year. After that I swallowed up literature. I even read Dostoevsky at that age, although I didn’t understand it! By the time I applied for university I think I’d absorbed so much good writing that when it came to essays the tutors were struck by how well I wrote. I had no idea. I was just thinking, ‘How would Orwell say this, in his plain English’. So I guess from feedback at college I knew I could write, that gave me the confidence to try fiction.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ was always going to be a niche book. The themes of Jewish identity and youth sub-culture were not going to have a mainstream appeal. However, it is also a fairly standard ‘rites of passage’ tale so I did have some hopes that a literary agent might like it. First I sent drafts to the Writers Association. This was a paid for consultancy service that offered advice. It sounds like a potential rip off but it wasn’t. They were full of integrity and fantastic help for a first time writer. Nick Russell-Pavier looked at my work and was incredibly detailed and most importantly, honest. You have to be able to take criticism and be prepared to, ‘murder your darlings’ (cut what is unnecessary), as he put it. The book would never have been written without his help and I owe him an enormous thanks for making me understand what it takes to be a writer of fiction. I then sent a sample and synopsis out to a random set of agents listed in the Writers Handbook. I did get one very positive response. The agent really liked my writing and the whole premise of the book. However, he wanted me to change it in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with. I understand why, it would have potentially given it a more mainstream appeal. Perhaps stupidly I decided against re-writing and just sat on the book for a couple of years. Then I stumbled upon Old Dog Books and its owner Paul Hallam, who thankfully liked it and was willing to publish it as it was. In that sense I have been very lucky. Without Old Dog Books I am not sure there are too many other pop-pulp fiction publishers out there!

 03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel? 

At the time of writing my novel hasn’t been published. However, I have written or co-written five academic books. There’s always a real thrill when you get the proofs. It was the same with ‘Weekend Dancer’. When you see your writing set out like an actual real book, it’s a great buzz. It sort of seems very personal and private until that moment. Then you realise that something you have written is going to become public and read by all these strangers. It may sound daft but when you are writing you might show bits to friends and family and so it feels as if you are just playing at being a writer. But when it’s set down professionally and you have to do the final edit it becomes an object that you realise is now out of your control. It will have multiple lives of its own. It’s an amazing thought, really.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously? 

I’d written academic books and I wanted a new challenge. I took Woody Allen’s famous advice to authors and chose something that I knew about. I am lucky enough to have a job that gives me time to write and one where you are constantly writing and expressing yourself. Lectures, seminars, essay feedback, it’s all about articulating yourself in words – oral and written. In a sense, ever since I was an undergraduate I have been engaged in writing of one kind or another, non-stop. So it wasn’t about suddenly taking writing seriously. It was always part of what I did. The difference was to fit the extra writing into my routine. Again I always have writing deadlines and marking deadlines so it wasn’t hard to set up a schedule. I think writing is a discipline. You have to be organised. You have to stick to a plan. That worked for me anyhow.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing? 

I like to write in public. I spent a lot of time in the mornings in cafes around North London: sipping cappuccino, eating croissants and writing. I loved it. I liked having people around and a bit of chatter. For lunch I used to wander into central London, to Soho and Bar Italia. I have been going there since I was a teenager. I knew I could stay there working on my laptop as long as I wanted. It helped with the novel too as some of it is set around that area. I often went to those parts of London that I was writing about. While I was writing about the Elephant and Castle I went over the river to sit in a caff nearby. I sat in the parks when I was setting events there. I went all over, even to Leytonstone and Gants Hill. It’s a London novel and I wanted to capture the feel of the city so it helped being situated where I was writing about. I also didn’t try and write too much in a day. But at the same time I always wrote something. Little and often was my motto! It’s amazing how much you find you have written if you just do a few hours every day.

 06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset? 

Obviously the Mod years were seminal. It is where I and my friends did our growing-up. Those years were very intense. Friendships were at the centre of our lives. They meant so much. It was in the context of the Mod scene that we learnt how to negotiate relationships. It was where we learnt that even if you like the same music and clothes people are different. It may sound obvious but as a self-centred 17 year old you just think about yourself and that if people don’t agree with you they must be wrong. It takes some time to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and situations. Going to clubs, starting to get exposed to girls and politics and different types of people with diverse backgrounds; Mod was a great place to learn all the stuff of negotiating difference. It wasn’t smooth or easy and I for one acted like a right Muppet a great deal of the time. But all the wrong things I did to people – letting them down, not taking their feelings seriously, talking stupid dogmatic rubbish – it was all done in a safe environment. There was the safety valve of dancing and posing about town together! We had something that bonded us so all our stupidities never lasted too long. I’ve realised that some people never go through that. But you need a testing time and a stimulating environment to find out who you are and appreciate other people’s points of view.

07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

It was exciting. It made you feel different and a part of something special. It was also myopic and suffocating. Sometimes it was a bit dull. It was many things at different times. It all seemed so important. We were so thirsty for Mod knowledge; to learn more about the styles, the music the lifestyle – to be pure Mod. It absorbed us, it was a total passion. But it made anyone who wasn’t part of our world simply ‘squares’ and they were dismissed. It probably wasn’t great for our parents either. We set ourselves apart. We judged people on their clothes and musical tastes. We were total snobs!

08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

I guess no different to anyone else. Trying to find out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I hated work. I drifted in and out of dead-end jobs. Luckily there was lots of work around in London in the early to mid-80’s. I basically dossed around at work until I got found out and then sacked. Then I’d walk into the jobcentre and get another job and do the same again. There were, of course, recessions and lots of unemployment in the country. But London was actually going through a boom period for most of the time. It was the North and the old heavy industry areas that really suffered. I did eventually find my feet working for a children’s’ publishers, Walker Books. They had recently been started by a very enlightened guy, Sebastian Walker. He ran the place in a very humane way. Everyone worked flexi hours, there was a cook that came in to make fresh meals for the staff, there was no real management structure other than Sebastian the owner and an equally nice general manager. It was the first time I had worked with really middle-class people and it was an eye-opener. They all talked about the theatre and art and books. There was a real commitment to the work but they were mainly creative types who didn’t think in straight lines. When their kids came to help out in the summer I really liked them too. They seemed so bright and happy and they were all planning to travel. When I found out that they were at university I had no idea what that really meant. When they told me about the things you could study I decided that was what I wanted to do, go to university. I didn’t have any ‘A’ levels (or ‘O’ levels!) but I managed to enrol in an evening course that led me to college.

 09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

I don’t think it did. At least, not in the way that Stanley Cohen set out when he wrote about the moral panic over ‘mods ‘n’ rockers’ in the 60s. We were largely under-the-radar for the mainstream press. Most of the articles were written by NME, Melody Maker and other music magazines. They were mostly interested in the music and the journalists were young enough and knowing enough to get it right. When there was reporting of mods as a sub-culture it did tend to focus on the stereotype ‘mod’, all mirrored scooters and parkas. But even then it was quite sympathetic. There certainly wasn’t any outrage about mods. Britain was so full of tribal youth that by the 80s youth subculture was not really demonised. I think this changed with the 1990s club scene and when new drugs like Ecstasy appeared. Then it was the same sort of headlines and social construction that Cohen writes about. But we existed in a sort of tacit truce period between the media and youth culture. I am guessing that if you were involved in a predominantly black youth sub-culture it was probably different.

 10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative? 

There is no doubt that Paul Weller and ‘The Jam’ was our biggest influence. Weller looked fantastic as a mod and we followed his lead. When he formed ‘The Style Council’ French and Italian looks became important. So too did hanging-out drinking cappuccino which was a constant theme in The Style Council lifestyle they portrayed. We used to go to watch French movies like, ‘A bout de souffle’ at the old Renoir cinema in Brunswick square. The French Lycee in Kensington and the ICA on The Mall also used to show foreign films which we watched but wouldn’t always understand. Europe represented modernism to us, forward thinking and youth. Britain seemed grey and Victorian by comparison, at least in our imaginations. We were very pretentious, without any substance! I tried to learn to speak French using Berlitz cassette tapes but didn’t get anywhere. Despite the superficiality of it all on our part it showed we were searching for something different, eager for an alternative culture and lifestyle.

11. What other books do you wish you had written? 

I based ‘Weekend Dancer’ on The Jam’s lyrics for their song ‘Absolute Beginners’, which was itself taken from Colin MacInnes’ novel of that name. I love his London trilogy. I wish I could write a similar one. ‘Weekend Dancer’ is an attempt to take that story but put in a 1980s context. The main character remains nameless like MacInnes’ early modernist. His best friend, ‘The Wizard’, is ‘Smiler’ in my book. ‘Crepe Suzzette’ is Tina. They aren’t exact fits but there are lots of references to them and other characters and incidents in, ‘Absolute Beginners’. It’s also a character driven rather than plot driven novel. This isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea. I know there are critics and avid readers who can’t stand the London Trilogy because they are weak on plot and heavy on style. But I like what MacInnes does and wish I could think of similar themes. I may have an idea for one!

12. How has the internet changed what you do? 

Well it brought about the contact with the Word Association and Old Dog Books so that was important. It makes professional connections for authors much easier. It also makes research much less time consuming. Everything is out there. For example, when I wanted to set the book over the weekend of PW Botha’s visit to London, I found a wealth of photos’ from the protest march that day in the London Transport Museum’s photo archives which are on-line. You Tube is great as every Northern Soul record ever made seems to have been uploaded. There’s old adverts, pop shows, gigs. You can do everything from your armchair! But it is also important to engage more directly. Which is why I went to the places I wrote about, to get the visceral feel too.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors? 

When I was writing ‘Weekend Dancer’, and a few times since, a lot of people who have said they too are writing a book have told me that they, ‘just write’. That somehow they hate to be shackled by a plan or a routine. That it will all just intuitively come together from their creative endeavours. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make. Writing is all about planning, as detailed as possible. It needs discipline and a schedule. And you have to be prepared to edit, edit, edit. As Nick at the Word Association taught me, even if what you have written is the best prose ever, if it doesn’t fit the story, if it doesn’t contribute to the direction of the plot, it has to go. Being a ferocious critic of your own work is very important. Trying to take the readers point of view is also crucial. With ‘Weekend Dancer’, I broke this rule here and there, which is why it’s more a niche book, but I know I am doing that. I wouldn’t do it in the future if I was aiming for a more mainstream market. I would advise that anyone writing a novel first writes a general synopsis. Then a detailed chapter plan. And finally in one sentence write down exactly what their book is about. If you can’t do this after the synopsis and the plan then you have to review them until you can.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ by Talcott Levy comes out just before Christmas on Old Dog Books website (see the buy now link below) & Amazon. Old Dog Books hope to have a distribution deal in place in the New Year that will take it into book shops. My next idea for a book is a second London novel but this time with a bit more of a mainstream appeal. It is called, ‘Art and the Ottoman’. It is a ‘rites of passage’ story with a difference, the main character is 118 years old and has decided to kill himself (a one sentence explanation!). There has not been a novel set around the London Turkish immigrant experience and I am going to have a go at writing one. I have studied quite a bit about the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. I want to use this for the background of the story which involves deep political rivalries and Turkish criminal gangs. I hope I can pull it off as I am not Turkish!

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book? 

It has only just gone on sale, so I will have to wait and see. Anyone reading this who wants to ask me anything about what I have said here can contact me via Old Dog Books. Or if you do read the book and want to let me know what you think please do get in touch too.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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November 29, 2016 By : Category : Culture Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Tags:, ,
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Kirk Brandon speaks to Eyeplug

What first got you into music, specifically forming a band?

I imagine it was the turning away from education, as in my school. Classic ‘I don’t fit in with anyones thinking about who or what I should be’. Forming a band meant to me, I’ve got a self-expression machine… trouble is, I was pretty clueless as to what it was I wanted to articulate. Young, slim and dim. A lot of insecure feelings pointed in no particular direction.

Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

Initially it was Blues, The Free, Sabbath, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Groundhogs… then Punk Rock happened and the world was turned upside down. It meant people could express themselves in an anti establishment way and think for themselves. Amongst all this, I was growing up doing a whole host of doss house crummy jobs going nowhere. Punk spoke to a lot of people. It was a ‘state of mind’. It vanished quick enough but, there was enough residue to father a whole host of bands from the Pistols through to Nirvana or Green Days.

Which of today’s artists do you like? How do you think they compare to your earliest favourite artists?

I heard the XX and enjoyed listening to their album recently. It didn’t smash me in the fave but was cool just have play. I hear things all the time, I think I’ve gone eclectic. Heard Howling Wolf the other day and as good now as then. Many things nowadays seem to be fourth or fifth generation generic in this so-called Babylon… so many voices, all speaking in hidden tongues. Perhaps it’s just I’m waiting for a bit of pure bravery.

If you had to describe your music to someone who had not heard you before, what would you say?

Often called Post Punk, but transcended that while it died off. Angry, end of days music, loves labour lost

What songs or arrangements of your own are you most proud of, and why?

There’s many for all different kinds of reasons. ‘Iceman’… ‘Propaganda’… Judas’…’Sputnik’… Titanium Man’ They all come with very different approaches to them. Their difference I’m proud of. No two the same. Some are sweeping in context, either anti-establishment or almost dream state. ‘Sputnik’ is a requiem, ‘Propaganda’ is anti-establishment, ‘Judas’ was someones betrayal of me, ‘Iceman’ is the 5,000 year old man they found in the ice on the Italian border in the mountains, ‘Titanium Man’ is simply the Russian doomed anti-hero who was an enemy of Ironman, betrayed by his own regime.

How well did you cope with fame at an early age?

Fame at 25 took my head off. I never ever imagined it could have possibly have happened. It was impossible. When the covers of magazines came along and 3 times on TV in two weeks… It would be a complete lie to say, yes I took it all in my stride. There was no one there to help/advise me, the management assumed it would nose dive at any moment. What I/we needed was proper guidance, not smash and grab thinking as the Titanic was going down. It turned out I wasn’t going down. There are lulls to all careers.

Which person has had the most significant effect on you? Why?

My daughter Siff. She has made sense of life in a very fundamental way. This is her world now, not mine. I’ve had my time. She and her generation have the unenviable task of walking forward into a very insecure, unstable future. She has to be brave all the time.

When touring/visiting, which country had the most profound effect on you, and why?

America. I lived there for almost 4 years. There are certain freedoms over there that are unique. It has to be experienced. For all the negative things going on over there, there is an opposite amount of great things. Every state is a country virtually. There are thinkers over there that broaden mankind’s perspective, and I don’t mean the gold diggers of silicon valley.

If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

I’m afraid I am the product of all my own stupidities and follies. For better, for worse. To erase one might erase the other. Sometimes I’m all the fools I never wanted to ever be, sometimes and just sometimes, I do something right. Don’t wait up…

Which invention or piece of art would you like to have prevented coming into being?

Undoubtably the Bomb and its descendants. It was brought into being by a group of scientists who raided Einsteins mathematics and knowingly did the unspeakable. They gave it life ever after.

If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

Complicated. Find a lawyer that understood what was or was about to have happen to me. Or as the late great Trevor Ravenscroft quoted to me ‘To Thine Own Self Be True’

 

Theatre of Hate

theatreofhate_westworld

Westworld De Luxe Edition

(Cherry Red Records CRCDMBOX31)

Cherry Red’s welcome re-release of Theatre of Hate’s sole studio LP, ‘Westworld’ comes expanded with some bonus alternative tracks, and two juicy extras; a disc of BBC sessions, and a live concert, from Vienna.

At a distance of 34 years, we may at last be able to get some perspective on Theatre of Hate’s individual take on post-punk rock. The band, here consisting of singer and songwriter Kirk Brandon, bassist Stan Stammers, sax/clarinet player John ‘Boy’ Lennard and drummer Luke Rendle, took on the serious issues of war, politics and propaganda, and set it to galloping martial music. The sparse, desert-like landscapes of Spaghetti Western soundtracks are never very far away, the wailing sax often providing a spectral atmosphere, and over it all, the soaring voice of Kirk Brandon. Produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, the LP arrived like a hot spark out of the fire, amid the low pop and polished adult orientated rock of 1982, doing respectable business into the bargain.

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The thunderous abandon of ‘Do You Believe in the West World?’ opens, with the band galloping over the plains, Kirk in full throat in what surely deserved to do better than the top 40 single place it ended up with. This is tempered by the shimmering cymbals and funeral trumpet of ‘Judgement Hymn’ and the trip beat of ‘G3’. ‘Love Is a Ghost’ has a tension about it that saves it from being merely a mournful lament, and ‘The Wake’s tense, anxious tones take the listener places he may not want to go. ‘Conquistador’s sleek gallop and rising voice reflect the danger and excitement in the lives of these notorious figures from history, and ‘The New Trail Of Tears’ open, plain-like vistas evoke the cinematic West of legend.

‘Freaks’ may not add much to the canon with its standard TOH beat, but is followed by the shiver-inducing lullaby of ‘Anniversary’. ‘The Klan’ is a suitably nightmarish evocation of antagonism and terror, the imploring vocal shredding the air over an unnerving piano roll. The 7’’ and dub versions of ‘West World’ follow the former a triumph, the latter something of a let-down, with its attempt at a ‘club’ sound hampered by its sheer attack. The alternative take of ‘Propaganda’ shows improvement on the original cut, with stronger beat, and closing track ‘Original Sin’s fear-response guitar and oriental feel making a surprising, late addition to the palette.

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The BBC CD offers up much the same basic material, and in almost every case, the studio takes for the John Peel show and ‘Top of the Pops’ are far superior to their original LP versions. The music is tighter, the vocals more assured, and the overall feel is that of a band who were surely going on to bigger and better things. The ‘Live in Vienna’ CD showcases the band’s winning sound for all to hear, and again, it exceeds the studio LP on almost every cut. We now know that Theatre of Hate would split with little to show for their efforts, and so the strident sound of the live CD and the punchy, engaging BBC sessions are ever more valuable artefacts for those who found the general run of 1982’s pop a little tepid for their tastes. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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November 28, 2016 By : Category : Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Author – Pete McKenna

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

In the winter of 1995 I was laid off work on the Brighton station job 3 days before Xmas. Talk about a depressing time for me. Back at the flat I found my old Casino diaries and then the idea hit me to write Nightshift. Sold two of my best saxophones and bought a word processor. Stocked up the grub cupboard with beans and pot noodles and got down to writing the book. Finished the book in 3 weeks and started sending it out to publishers and agents. Over 40 no’s later, ST PUBLISHING gave me an offer to publish and Nightshift came out in 1996. Job done. Well received all round, the book quickly became a cult classic.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

Nightshift wasn’t exactly a struggle. Once I’d decided to write the book it was just a matter of getting it done. The rejection was tough to take but one thing a writer has to do is shake off rejections because they are all part of the game.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

Talk about a buzz when I saw the book actually in print. Yeah there’s nothing like the smell of fresh paper in the morning. Top buzz.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I felt I had something to say about the 70’s northern soul scene that hadn’t been said before warts and all. The beauty of Nightshift is that it tells the whole truth and nothing but about England’s longest surviving dance culture that’s bigger than ever these days.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

I do have a daily system which entails me getting up early, boiling up a pot of Lavazza and getting stuck into 2 to 3000 words a day depending on mood. I write everything in longhand and then when it feels good. I blitz the computer adding and subtracting where needed.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

My teenage experiences shaped everything. The clobber, scooters, good mates, northern soul, drugs and soccer agro. A non – stop riotous roller coaster. Thanks also to my old man, former detective sergeant John McKenna who knew a thing or three about personal style and attention to detail which has rubbed off on me even to this day.

07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

Hedonistic, exciting, dangerous, diverse, you name it and it was on the menu apart from anal sex of course. The sole reason for breathing was going against the social grain and it felt electric convincing me that it was all going to last forever. Oohhh err!

08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

Unbeatable, unbelievable, unrepeatable, when we were young sharp hard and cool and the impossible was anything but. Great days and nights with me to the grave.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

The 70’s was a diverse mental decade. The buzz of football aggro was everywhere, massed Saturday battles on terraces and in town centres as opposed to the more underground streamlined casual firms of the 80’s and beyond. Same attitude with a different uniform. The media slagged Wigan off big time describing it as a drug fuelled den of iniquity frequented by vampire like young kids off their heads on drugs. And then Granada television set the scene straight with the best documentary on Wigan ever made thanks to the drive of the late great Ray Gosling RIP. Brilliant documentary that still holds its own today.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Jazz, soul,  Bowie, Ferry, reggae, ska, the king of 70’s pulp fiction Richard Allen AKA James Moffatt, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Anthony Burgess, Christopher Isherwood Hunter S Thompson, Clockwork Orange, Lord Of The Flies, Quadrophenia, If, Alfie, The Ipcress File, Bond, The Servant, The Night Porter, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Godfather, GOD the list could go on forever.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

I don’t but to be honest. Football Factory comes close. The best insight into the murky violent world of the soccer casuals penned by a man who to me is England’s finest. John King, top bloke, top writer and a vegetarian as well. Maybe I should think about knocking meat on the head.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Ease of information with a worldwide audience at the touch of a button. A brilliant useful tool for research and getting the word out there in seconds. Couldn’t do without now.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Yeah. Forget it. Take comfort in your day job, live well, be happy, get married, buy a house and a car, have kids and grow fat, bald, toothless slowly and die happy convinced you did your best for those you love and care for. However if you do decide to march down one of the loneliest paths imaginable then write about something you know that will appeal to your readership and I’m not talking about Knitting Jumpers From Pubic Hair and be prepared for rejection after rejection until – and this is only a slim chance – you finally get your work accepted after which the really hard graft begins.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

Currently working on two novels – UP NORTH and AUTUMN LEAVES that will complete the Frank Wilson trilogy. Also my long overdue baby JERUSALEM which is a dark violent wade through contemporary England’s slashed and torn social fabric seen through the eyes of the main character Johnny Hodges a lifelong skinhead who goes out in a blaze of glory for reasons that will become apparent. ‘ Police confirmed that they received a telephone call seconds before the triple suicide bomb attacks in London Leeds and Birmingham from one of the three men who carried out the bombings dressed in burkas claiming that they were members of the ultra – right group Patriots Of The Cross and the attacks were reprisals for the beheading of three young men in a secret London location by Jihadis with more attacks on the way.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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November 28, 2016 By : Category : Culture DozenQ Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Tags:, ,
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Edwin Astley – Scenester Reviews

edwinastley

International Detective/ Man from Interpol

El Records ACMEM321CD

This neatly packaged CD contains a snappy selection of work from the prolific Edwin Astley,one who needs no introduction to fans of the TV detective and crime-fantasy genre. Articulating all the tension, excitement and intrigue depicted on screen in these two popular shows, these largely instrumental works will enliven many a jaded palate.

The ‘International Detective’ theme’s urgent brass reveille gives way to some mellower notes of success and glory, taking us straight to ‘Murder Strip’, a sinister drum hiss, short, sharp blasts of brass and clarinet meandering its way round a locality filled with danger. ‘Theme for Larceny’s high, harsh fanfare, interrupted with sudden, shock notes conjures up the murky world of crime, if not horror itself, perfectly.

‘Night Patrol’s cha-cha rhythm lulls you into a sense of false security with its suggestion of humour and a nod to children’s rhyme ‘A tisket, A tasket’, with ‘The Badge’s mellow country guitar and flute taking the theme further. We’re then into the cool drum brushwork and accusatory brass of ‘Manhunt’, and the adversarial notes of ‘Shock Tactics’, with its own nod to horror film themes. ‘Murder Chase’s stabbing notes and fugitive brass works well, the latter’s slightly undisciplined feel adding to the tension, leading to a reprise of the title track, this time more strident and with a characteristic wide-awake vocal.

‘The Menace’s vortex of hissing cymbals and swaggering brass is one of the finest selections here, followed by the ‘Concerto In Law’, with its mocking brass, bongos and clarinet. ‘The Net’ delivers a gentle shock with its strip club voodoo drums and powerful brass in an ironically playful tune. ‘After Dark’s breezy tones and easy going melody acts as relief, with ‘Gang Busters’ piano runs echoing up and down the keyboard, working well here. ‘Ten Four’s tense, moody strut soon turns into a meandering, hesitant sort of tune, suggestive of close, impending danger, with a sudden-death crescendo to end on. ‘Opus in Blue’s muted horns, train-like rhythm and hint of seduction in the plucked guitar is an evocative piece, followed by the brassy, high piping swagger of ‘The Avenger’. Reprising the title track twice, the strong twangy guitar flanked by brass is easily the standout track pairing here.

‘Man from Interpol’s timpani rolls and high, shrieking brass describes imminent danger well, with the leaping notes giving a slightly comic edge to ‘Interpol Chase’. ‘Slow Boat’s dolorous, pedestrian beat, supported by tidy xylophone and drums is a little too laid back for these ears. ‘My Fair Laine’ is much a livelier affair, its sax wickedly expressive, with ‘Fordaire’s call and response horns leading into ’Motor Museum’, a bright and breezy tune, reminiscent of a typical TV game show of the period. ‘The Toff’s light piano opening and slow, sultry sax sharply contrasts with the title, but ‘Breezy Capers’ twee xylophone tune delivers little but irritation. It’s up to the splendidly titled ‘Blues Macabre’ to deliver the thrills, with its capable sax and xylophone backing providing the setting for a free expression piece leading to a fine horn outro.

‘Samba De Janeiro’ is a predictably upbeat piece, with bongo intro, high, piping flutes and meandering sax, underpinned by wild xylophone beating. ‘Beaulieu Blues’ urgent horns, clashing, thumping percussion and crazy sax enlivens, with ‘Nightprowl’s ironic light touch making a good, contrasting companion piece. ‘Domus’s low, quiet double bass leads into a freely expressed sax workout, followed by ‘Panic Station’s strong horns and bongos, leading into free form sax and piano breaks. The wryly comical ‘Interpol Cha Cha’ has plenty to distract, and the somewhat literal ‘Escape to Hawaii’s holiday vibe is both welcome and knowing. ‘Perpetual Lover’s swing beat is held together well by piano and horns, if a little too laid back, and ‘Shapes’ suffers from the opposite problem of being too wide awake, with its piano noodling proving ultimately irritating. ‘Beguine Portrait’s gentle horns and slow, late night feel is exactly what we need at this point, before we end on a reprise of the blaring horns and thumping drums of ‘Man From Interpol’. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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January 4, 2017 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Mohair Sweets – Scenester Reviews

Dream Filled Nights

An EP of four highly varied works from Mohair Sweets, the eponymous title track has a languorous opening, but soon settles into the sort of hard, gutsy driving blues/rock riff and throaty vocal MS fans will be more familiar with. ‘Black Leather Jacket’s traditional rock ‘n’ roll will please the no-nonsense heads down brigade, but where the EP really hits its stride, is in ‘Blues For Bobby’, a churning vortex of sound with bongos and trumpet rounding out this funk/jazz maelstrom, that even takes on techno – and wins – before its crazed keyboard demise. With this hard track to follow, ‘Mr. Sinclair’ manages it pretty well, the muted staccato guitar barking over frantic drumming, evoking the spirit of arch 70’s space-rock.

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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January 4, 2017 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Rock Tags:, ,
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Action Time Vision – Scenester Reviews

A Story of UK Independent Punk 1976-1979 (4 CD Set)

(CRCDBOX27)

Diamond blades and abrasive discs?

Whether taking issue with every conceivable aspect of their upbringing, proposing radical political solutions, or just raising merry hell in their local scout hut, punk cannot be relegated to the side-lines of the musical past. This comprehensive collection over four CDs, taking in famous and not so famous names alike, and with lavish sleeve notes, is a must-have for anyone with a serious interest in early British punk.

Crashing through the door, the first UK punk single, The Damned’s ‘New Rose’, a growling, leader-straining Rottweiler of a tune that set the standard for sheer, unbridled power. Eater’s ‘Outside View’ has all the shouty, snotty vocals, nodding dog basslines and sheet-metal guitars that were the signature style of most punk bands, but with the surprising addition of phasing on the guitars. It is surely Eater’s finest hour. The Radiators from Space’s ‘Television Screen’ weathers well; a great, classic rock and roll riff with cheery, slightly comic lyrics on the inevitabilities of life. The Cortinas’ punk-by-numbers ‘Fascist Dictator’ still has plenty of punch and some nifty guitar work, but it’s The Drones who get the prize for ‘Lookalikes’, a hard, driving rejection of the idiot conformity within-and without-the punk movement. The Lurkers’ ‘Shadow’, a lo-fi chugger with a fear-response guitar shriek is a solid piece of stalking punk, nicely balanced by The Rezillos spinning, riffing ‘I Can’t Stand My Baby’; Fay Fife’s parodic 60’s trash pop vocals shrieking brilliantly over it all.

999’s ‘I’m Alive’ has enough crotch level guitar and snot-nosed vocal to make it a punk classic, and the sheer excitement of the riff makes it one of the finest on offer here. Johnny Moped’s barking cockney voice injects an element of humour into ‘No-One’, it’s hard, churning riff delivered stony-faced by his capable band. Sham 69’s ‘I Don’t Wanna’ has a thundering riff, but only hints at the greatness that would invade the cosy family friendly culture on BBC’s Top of the Pops. Puncture’s ‘Mucky Pup’ will be recalled with affection by those who felt that punk was way too serious in its early days, as will The Snivelling Shits ‘Terminal Stupid’, a slack, neo-psychedelic confection with Teen/B-Movie imagery. Say what you like, punks could write great titles.

The Vacants’ ‘Worthless Trash’ may be identikit punk, but that echoing, barking vocal and buzzsaw guitar perfectly encapsulates the sound of the period. The Zeros ‘Hungry’ shows a Stooges-infused, more positive side to punk. Maniacs’ joyous racket, Chelsea 77, could have been released in the post punk days, and would probably have got more attention, then. The ringing guitars and full throated, gutter vocal, enriched with stuttering, is an absolute classic. The Outsiders ‘One to Infinity’ has more going on than is immediately apparent and repays repeated listening.

The Killjoys’ ‘Johnny Won’t Get To Heaven’ is a slice of pure, angry confrontation, with Kevin Rowland in his first band, delivering a hoarse, aggressive vocal that is perfect for the style. The magnificently named Johnny and the Self Abusers throw a mean left hook in ‘Saints and Sinners’, while The Unwanted’s ‘Withdrawal’ and The Pigs ‘Youthanasia’ feel more like the speedy, stereotypical punk of the time. The Wasps’ ‘Teenage Treats’ leans towards the power pop that would follow punk later in the decade, and Lockjaw’s ‘Radio Call Sign’ hints at jerky post punk a little before the style was ready.

Neon Hearts squall-like ‘Venus Eccentric’ brings in that rarely used instrument in punk bands, the saxophone, but to little memorable effect. Further proof that punks had a sense of humour, is the Jerks’ ‘Get Your Woofing Dog off me’, but The Panik’s shouty, disgruntled vocals of ‘Modern Politics’ takes us back to punk-a-like territory. Some Chicken’s ‘New Religion’ has all the muddy guitar riffing and complaint rock vocals you would expect, but does little to light the fires at this distance in time.

The Carpettes ‘Radio Wunderbar’ is a pleasing, power pop racket; with The Flys’ singalong ‘Love and a Molotov Cocktail’ may be the best chorus, here. Only the meanest, most curmudgeonly critic would grumble about the inclusion of the Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias’ gloriously funny ‘Gobbing on Life’. Our first CD closes on a high, with The Only Ones off-kilter, yet beautifully melodic ‘Lovers of Today’ and Suspects’ screaming guitar-infused ‘Nothing to Declare’, playing live at The Vortex.

CD2 opens with the fondly remembered, cross-riff laden Swell Maps’ ‘Read about Seymour’, and passes on to original punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald’s whimsical ‘Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart’. A cracking demo of the Boys’ ‘No Leaders’ opens with harmonics you don’t expect and the great fuzzy guitars you do. The Stoats’ irresistibly cute ‘Office Girl’ proved even punks could be sweet, followed closely by Acme Sewage Co’s riffy but stereotypical ‘I Don’t Need You’. V2’s ‘Speed Freak’, opening with the ever popular air raid siren, launches itself headlong into an insistent guitar hook and stentorian vocal, without distinguishing itself much. Bazoomis’ ‘Give It All to Me’ has more going for it than the average effort, and with a chorus they did well not to put into the title. Raped’s ‘Moving Target’ is more of the same grumble-heavy rock, as is Big G’s ‘I Hate The Whole Human Race’, albeit with a killer guitar churn and a great, music hall chorus.

The thundering battery that opens Subs ‘Gimme Your Heart’ promises and delivers much, and Tubeway Army’s ‘That’s Too Bad’ has none of the icy electronica of their more famous incarnation, but nevertheless a nimble bassline and some neat guitar wash to complement Gary Numan’s signature whine. It’s up to Xtraverts’ ‘Blank Generation’ to inject some bile into the proceedings, but is neutralised by the power pop music hall humour of Fruit Eating Bears’ ‘Door in My Face’. Front’s ‘System’ offers up some excellent twangy guitar and vocals more reminiscent of the early 70’s than the year it’s credited to.

The brilliantly named Satan’s Rats’ ‘You Make Me Sick’ is a standard workout peppered with a clanging guitar solo, but it’s the mighty Stiff Little Fingers who shine here, with the barnstorming ‘Suspect Device’. Menace’s ‘GLC’ takes us back to standard punk shout-a-long, enriched with a chorus that would win them no airplay. The Dyaks’ ‘Gutter Kids’ chiming guitars and homeboy charm has a lot going for it, and Skids obviously hit upon their signature sound early with ‘Reasons’. It has another fine guitar solo in a musical style often blamed wrongly for being totally unmusical. Rudi’s hard to resist ‘Big Time’ fires on all four cylinders from the start, a totally satisfying single.

If your bag happens to be crazed, shouty nonsense, then The Art Attacks ‘I Am A Dalek’ will do for you, Bears’ ‘On Me’ offers a winding bass riff and shouted, soaring vocal that lingers in the mind long after even one listen. O Level‘s ‘Pseudo Punk’ is a standard punker-than-thou slanging match, contrasting with The Members’ ode to the loneliness that characterises many big cities, ‘Solitary Confinement’, because hey, punks can be sensitive too. Nipple Erectors ‘King of the Bop’ is a shambling, bragging rock ‘n’ roll affair, and all the better for it. The Angelic Upstarts ‘The Murder of Liddle Towers’ is perhaps the angriest of all punk singles, the incendiary vocal shredding the air over wild backing, with a truly nerve-jangling interlude. Our second CD closes with Mean Streets’ music hall bop, ‘Bunch of Stiffs’, an indication that, for all the supposed antagonism between punk and rock ‘n’ roll, the two cults remained close cousins.

ATV open the third CD with ‘Action Time Vision’, after which this compilation is named, an elevating song with an insistent repeat riff and Mark Perry’s strangely affecting voice making it a stand out track. Social Security’s ‘I Don’t Want My Heart To Rule My Head’ has more a classic 60’s punk feel to it, all descending chords and yelping vocals. The Tights’ ‘Bad Hearts’ has the feel of a well-produced routine workout, as does Riff Raff’s ‘Cosmonaut’. The Dole’s ‘New Wave Love’ is a breath of fresh air, a little bit of jaunty keyboard in with the buzzing guitars, and with a cheeky lyric. The raw, unprocessed Joy Division perform a V-U inspired ‘Failures’, as muddy and lo-fi as they wanted to be, and as if by way of complete contrast, Leyton Buzzards slap down a punk by numbers ’19 and Mad’. These men would, within a couple of years, be singing ‘Ay y Ay Ay Moosey’ in shiny suits. Demon Preacher lay aside the black Eucharist to treat us to an uninspired girl-baiting ‘Little Miss Perfect’, followed by the much more listener friendly ‘Just another Teenage Rebel’, a danceable slice of near-surf by The Outcasts.

In amongst all this dumb furore, there were some well-read souls who would wield a scalpel to the zeitgeist. By the pricking of my thumbs, it’s The Fall, and their full frontal attack on abusive mental hospital staff, ‘Pyscho Mafia’. This song sounds as powerful, as uncompromising and as far-removed from the general run of pop music as it did then. Chelsea’s ‘Urban Kids’ is one of their less distinguished sides, but no matter, Protex’s ‘Don’t Ring Me Up’ has plenty of classic punk riffs and a tune that would cheer up a manic depressive. The Cravats’ shambling ‘Gordon’ has a neo-psychedelic charm not lost on this reviewer, with the punk by numbers football chant ‘England 77’ by Horrorcomic in hot pursuit.

UK Subs do what they do best with ‘C.I.D.’, a hard, driving warning to those in search of vicarious thrills. Spizzoil’s ‘6000 Crazy’ sets the tone for veteran punk Spizz’s many incarnations, an avant-garde guitar-pounder strangely reminiscent of ‘Do The Strand’. Brighton’s The Dodgems ‘I Don’t Care’ (full version, as threatened) has all the humour that some folk felt punk lacked. The Users can’t resist a good driving riff, with ‘Kicks in Style’, with Peter and the Test Tube Babies helpfully keeping us up to date with the news in ‘Elvis Is Dead’. The Ruts’ magnificent ‘In a Rut’ takes pride of place on this third CD, its tough love message particularly poignant considering the tragic fate of singer Malcolm Owen.

The amusingly named Disco Zombies’ ‘Drums over London’ is a good example of why only some bands can get away with titles like this. The quirky Nicky & The Dots ‘Never Been So Stuck’ reminds us why punk was a broader church than it was ever given credit for. The Shapes childish chugger ‘Wot’s For Lunch Mum?’ (Not B***s Again) perhaps beggars the reply ‘Sh*t With Sugar On’. No Way’s hard, shrieking, grinding ‘Breaking Point’ is a standout, followed by a cheeky Joy Division-like secret track. The Wall’s reggae tinged ‘New Way’ has a lot going for it, and our third CD closes with The Hollywood Brats’ guitar-mangling, shouty madness, ‘Sick on You’, taking punk to its inevitable conclusion.

With our hearts in our mouths, we pass on to CD4, opening with the mighty Adam and the Ants, swaggering their way to fame and fortune with ‘Zerox’, albeit in different directions. If anyone out there can tell whether Notsensibles’ ‘Death to Disco’ is for or against that popular style of music, please let me know. The Vice Creems’ rough-as-robbery ‘Danger Love’ is a delight to the ears, and at least primes you for the macabre horror comic strip of Murder the Disturbed’s ‘DNA’. Speaking of comics, The Cockney Rejects’ ‘Flares and Slippers’ would bring a smile to the face of the worst type of misery guts. Psykik Volts’ knew more about music than they’re letting on, in their classically-inspired march, ‘Totally Useless’.

The Molesters get five points for the band name and a three for effort with their ‘The End of Civilization’, a capable dirge that bears up to repeated listening. The Newtown Neurotics take us back to basic, snotty punk with ‘Hypocrite’, and nothing wrong with that. Pure Hell’s unnecessary cover of ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ adds little more than a speed riff to the old 60’s chestnut. Fire Exit’s ‘Timewall’ shows us a richer colour palette than the standard punk thrash of the period, and a flashy guitar solo to boot. The Pack’s ‘King of Kings’ shows the fury and promise which would later transform into Theatre of Hate. Steroid Kiddies’ ‘Dumb Dumb’ has welcome elements of 60’s punk buoying it up, and English Subtitles ‘Time Tunnel’ takes us in a definite post punk direction with its melancholic guitar and military beat.

The Proles’ ‘Soft Ground’ also leans toward a neo-psychedelia, underpinned by standard punk guitar, and The Adicts urgent, slicing guitar figure and shocked vocal on ‘Easy Way Out’ once again elicits the fear response, to great effect. The Dark’s ‘My Friends’ has no such sepulchral corners, a fun love song to that drug of the nation, television. The magnificently named Woody & The Splinters’ rather ruin it by making a record, in this case, the busy but ultimately uninteresting ‘I Must Be Mad’. A similar fate awaits Victim’s childhood joke, ‘Why Are Fire Engines Red’. The X-Certs’ ‘Anthem’ approaches country picking but loses itself in its desire to go somewhere fast. F-X’s ‘Slag’ is more fun than you might expect, and the sound effects and stage cockney voices propel punk into the music hall it surely had some vestigial roots in.

The Rivals’ ‘Future Rights’ moody Who-like opening pays dividends, a great marching beat that raises itself head and shoulders above the usual output of the times. Silent Noise’s ‘I’ve Been Hurt (So Many Times Before) can’t quite decide whether to sound like the Mancunian love-lorn band of legend, or the West London spikies, but I’ll not hold it against them. Vice Squad’s screaming tirade, ‘Nothing’ is a fair example of the ‘Don’t Mend What Isn’t Broken’ school of thought, and The Prefects ‘Things in General’ takes the prize for the most disinterested title, and song, in the whole collection. The Licks’ ‘1970’s Have Been Made in Hong Kong’ couldn’t possibly live up to its eloquent title, as its staccato punk stodge proves.

It’s left up to Fatal Microbes to deliver the chilling parable ‘Violence Grows’ and Poison Girls’ searing attack on Big Pharma and its handmaiden, psychiatry, in ‘Under The Doctor’, to close this eclectic, varied and above all, honest collection of sounds from the first punk era. From a snotty, teenage craze to viable all-ages lifestyle in just a few years, punk regularly thumps its sweaty fist on the table, to remind us that not only is it still very much alive, but it’s got no time for the likes of you. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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December 3, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Punk Reviews Tags:, ,
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The Cramps – Longjohn Reviews

Magnificent – 62 Classics from The Cramps Insane Collection

thecramps

This compilation is another installment of oddball novelty records taken from The Cramps personal record collection. Those of you who are familiar with The Cramps trashy amped up rock n roll will adore this mad mish mash of music spread across two discs that include sleazy rock n roll, hillbilly head bangers, spoken word nonsense, howling RnB scorchers, surf and exotica.

The late Lux Interior and Poison Ivy were avid collectors of obscure kitsch 1950’s music and it was their respective record collections that provided the template for their own raw primal style, and the result was a brilliantly deranged take on 1950s and early 1960s rock n roll.

Cherry Red Records subsidiary Righteous Records have recently released a series of these albums, and it is difficult to think of a single band apart from The Cramps who could have inspired compilers to release albums full of unorthodox madness. If it was not for the crate digging of Lux Interior and Poison Ivy then most of these artists and songs may have just disappeared into obscurity.

The latest volume is a double disc with sixty-two (yes 62) sonic slabs of some of the rawest and wildest rock n roll ever committed to tape. These records are magical items if you happen to have them on 7’’ chunky vinyl, and if you don’t then this compilation is the next best thing.

Righteous Records have done a splendid job in getting this music out to a wider audience, however, if there is one small gripe to be made then this compilation is simply too long with musical tropes often repeated, and even the most rabid fan of leg shimmying rock n roll will be worn out after the first disc.

This is a minor quibble in what is otherwise an enormously fun compilation full of songs littered with sledge hammer riffs, hooks galore, odd ball charm and all sorts of other near craziness in between. If the listener can stay the distance then they will be duly rewarded with left field rock n roll that will make you wonder how some of these artists made this stuff up in the first place.

Rock n roll as Lux Interior beautifully explained in an MTV interview from 1984 is simply about sex and the celebration of earthly desires. However, earthly desires is not the only concern on this album as it launches into the stratosphere with a number of space oddities, including Jimmie Haskall’s Blast Off, followed by the wonderfully galactic instrumental Ghost Satellite by Bob and Jerry.

There are a few movie soundtracks on this compilation and the theme tune to the schlock horror film The Blob was scored by Burt Bacharach, and the film tells the story of a small American town that is terrorized by an outer space gelatinous monster, which slides and creeps across the floor and ‘will eat you ‘ if you are not careful teenyboppers.

There is even room on this compilation for actor Robert Mitchum who starred in the 1958 film Thunder Road. Not only did he play the lead in the film, he even wrote the script and composed and sang the theme tune ‘Ballad of Thunder Road’, which tells the story of a man who bootlegs moonshine that would even ‘quench the devils thirst’, and the story of this liquor runner is an unexpected and welcome inclusion on this album.

Prison life has been a long source of fascination for singers and songwriters in this period, and no compilation of this type would ever be complete without the inclusion of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller’s prison lament, ‘’Riot in Cell Block No#9. Even better still is that Wanda Jackson covers this particular version and her unmistakable kittenish growl coupled with a rough edged rockabilly track is enough to make you wish you were in a calaboose with her.

Bo Diddley was never afraid to refer to himself or include his own name in his songs, and this infectious trick is repeated on ‘Bo Diddley is a Lover’. The irresistible rhythmic shuffle, humorous bravado, and the raw production that defined his records in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s is all present and correct on this particular tune culled from Bo’s sixth studio album.

The Clovers ‘Your cash ain’t nothing but trash’ released in 1954 on Atlantic Records is a scorching slice of horn and piano driven Doo Wop, and it is easy to see why this combo were snapped up by Ahmet Ertegun, who presided over these harmony kings as they notched up over 20 hit singles on the RnB charts in the early 1950s.

Paul Peek (who?) and Johnny Burnette and his Trio both grace this compilation with a couple of rockabilly strollers. Little information exists on Paul Peek but he did release over a dozen singles, including ‘Olds-Mo-William, which is a rockabilly floor filler.

Johnny Burnette can lay claim to being a rock n roll pioneer and released a handful of great singles, including ‘The Train Kept a Rollin’ (later reprised by The Yardbirds). However, the B-side ‘Honey Hush’ is no slouch either, and the same vaguely distorted guitar riff from side A is recycled and played by the sadly over looked rockabilly guitarist Paul Burlison.

It would be an understatement to say that having to listen and absorb 62 tracks spread across 2-CDs is an endurance test. However, we are never going to get the opportunity to hang out in The Cramps record lair so for a pair of fivers you get this crack-pot collection of wild, untamed rock n roll in it’s most primitive form. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 7, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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